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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 November 2007, 14:27 GMT
Farm gets polytunnels green light
Crops growing inside a polytunnel
Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are grown at the farm
A farm operator in Surrey forced to take down polytunnels used for soft fruit growing has had a planning application for them granted.

The Hall Hunter Partnership wanted the plastic structures for its Tuesley Farm site, near Godalming.

It first erected polytunnels in 2004, but a local authority enforcement notice to remove them was backed by a planning inspector and the High Court.

Protesters said the approval now given was disappointing news.

This decision will be welcomed by soft fruit growers
National Farmers' Union

The Tuesley Farm Campaign group, made up of 80 local residents, said the structures were a blight on their landscape.

They celebrated a "wonderful result" last December when it was ruled that polytunnels needed planning permission, which the Hall Hunter Partnership had not originally sought in 2004.

But a planning application for up to 20 hectares of polytunnels, existing on a rotational basis within a defined 190 hectares of land at Tuesley Farm, was approved by Waverley Borough Council on Wednesday.

Richard Hirst, horticulture board chairman at the National Farmers' Union, commented: "This decision will be welcomed by soft fruit growers and we are relieved common sense has prevailed."

'Visual amenity'

The Tuesley Farm Campaign had continued its objection to the plans, saying that a rotational polytunnels system would just "have a 'scattering' effect... [which] will affect more of the farm and visual amenity of the surrounding footpaths, roads and neighbouring properties".

Spokeswoman Isabel Mason said: "This issue is about whether polytunnels should be allowed on greenbelt land. This is not about whether we should be supporting our British farmers."

She also said she believed little consideration had been given to the arrangements for housing an estimated 250 workers needed to erect the polytunnels and pick the fruit.

Waverley Borough Council said: "The application has been recommended for approval on the completion of a legal agreement that obligates the farmers to manage the farm to minimise the impact of polytunnels on the landscape."

And local MP Jeremy Hunt said he hoped the Hall Hunter Partnership would "stick to its reduced plans".

SEE ALSO
Landmark ruling over polytunnels
15 Dec 06 |  Southern Counties
Polytunnels planning row in court
14 Dec 06 |  Southern Counties
Farm may appeal over polytunnels
22 Oct 06 |  Hereford/Worcs
Protest pensioner destroys crops
19 May 06 |  Hereford/Worcs
Tougher crop tunnel rules sought
19 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Residents seeking polytunnel laws
15 Feb 05 |  Hereford/Worcs

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